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Ahead of the release of Valve’s upcoming flagship VR title, Half-Life: Alyx, you might be looking to play through some of the earlier entries in the Half-Life series.
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While all of the games in the series so far are traditional games and only available to play officially on PC and Mac computers, a sideloaded Oculus Quest app enables you to play the original Half-Life game in VR with full 6DoF on your headset.
The application, Lambda1VR, only acts as an engine to run Half-Life in VR on your Quest. The developer behind the Lambda1VR mod, Dr Beef, tells modders they “need to legally own Half-Life” to play it in VR. The team behind Half-Life: Alyx said recently they encourage players to familiarize themselves with the Half-Life series, especially Half-Life 2.
So for this Oculus Quest VR mod, you’ll need a copy of the original Half-Life game installed on your computer.
In order to install Lambda1VR and Half-Life on your Quest, you will need to be familiar with sideloading content on your Quest and make sure your Quest is also in developer mode. If you’ve sideloaded content via SideQuest before, then you can move onto the next section.
If you haven’t sideloaded anything before, or don’t even know what that means, check out our guide on how to sideload content on the Oculus Quest. For the purposes of installing Half-Life, you’ll want to follow the sideloading guide right up until the “Sideloading content from the SideQuest store page” section.
If you’ve followed everything up until that point, you can move on with the guide below.
Downloading a copy of Half-Life
The Lambda1VR application itself won’t work without a copy of the Half-Life game files, which you’ll need to copy over from a computer that has the game installed.
Before proceeding, just make sure you have a copy of the original Half-Life game (not Half-Life 2 or Half-Life: Source) downloaded from Steam, on the same computer that you use SideQuest on.
Connect your Quest to your computer and open up SideQuest. The Lambda1VR application will be available in the Games and Apps section. Simply click on the listing, press “Install Latest” and SideQuest will do the rest.
To check the progress of installation or ensure everything installed correctly, you can click on “Tasks” button on the top right, and if the app was downloaded and installed correctly, you will see a bar reading “APK file installed OK!!”
However, the Lambda1VR app won’t work on its own. You still need to copy over the Half-Life files.
Install Half-Life on your Quest
Above: Half-Life and Left 4 Dead paraphernalia at Valve HQ
There are two ways to do the next step, which involves copying over the Half-Life files to your Quest.
You can stay in SideQuest and use SideQuest’s built-in File Explorer for the Quest, but we’ve found it is easier to your system’s File Explorer to copy files to your Quest. For the purposes of this tutorial, we’ll be using Windows Explorer (or Finder, if you’re on a Mac).
1. In Windows Explorer or Finder, navigate to the root folder of your Oculus Quest.
Once your Quest is plugged into your computer, it should show up in your file explorer just like any other hard drive on your computer. The root folder will have folders such as Alarms, Android, DCIM, Download, Oculus, Screenshots and many others.
2. In the root folder, create a new folder called “xash,” without the quotation marks.
You will copy the Half-Life files into this folder in a later step.
3. Find the folder where you installed Half-Life on your system.
On Windows, you can find this at C:Program FilesSteamsteamappscommonHalf-Life.
On Mac, you’ll need to open your Library folder, which is hidden by default. Click on Finder, then on the top menu bar, click on Go, then Go To Folder, then type the following and press enter: ~/Library/Application Support
That should bring up a new Finder window with Application Support folder. From there, navigate to the folder SteamSteamAppscommonHalf-Life.
4. Copy the “valve” folder.
On both systems, the Half-Life folder will contain a lot of different files and folders. You do not need all of these to be copied to your Quest. In the Half-Life folder, simply locate the folder titled “valve” and copy it.
5. Paste the “valve” folder
With the Valve folder now copied, go back to your Quest root folder. Open the “xash” folder you created in Step 2 and paste the “valve” folder inside. This might take a while to copy across to your system.
Note: You want to copy the actual “valve” folder into the “xash” folder. The structure should look like Questxashvalve when finished, with all the subsequent files within the valve folder.
6. Restart your Quest
Hold down the power button on your Quest to bring up the power menu and select restart.
Play Half-Life on your Quest
Lambda1VR will now appear in your Quest library under the “unknown sources” tab. You can stop reading right here and go and play the game if you want — it works fine. However, there are also a few tweaks you can make to improve performance and some of the textures, if you wish. These steps below are optional and listed below.
Note: This step will only work when using a copy of Half-Life from Windows computers. Mac users don’t seem to be able to install the HD graphics on their Quest.
The standard install of Half-Life on Quest uses the original graphics. However, every Steam install of Half-Life also includes an HD version that slightly improves the models, most notably the NPCs. That being said, if you install all of the HD models, users have reported it can affect performance in Lambda1VR.
Users on the Lambda1VR subreddit recommend just upgrading the models for the Barney and Scientists files, in order to keep performance steady but upgrade some of the NPCs.
To do this, find the Half-Life installation folder just like you did in the steps above. Then:
1. Navigate to Half-Lifevalve_hdmodels
2. Select all the Barney and Scientist files and copy them.
This includes barney.mdl up to barney05.mdl, and scientist.mdl through to scientist10.mdl.
3. Navigate to the xash folder on your Quest.
Open the xash folder, and then go to Valvemodels.
Paste the Barney and Scientist model files into the models folder. When asked, you do want to replace the existing files, as you’re overwriting the old models with the HD ones.
When you relaunch the game, the updated models should take effect.
If you want to improve the game’s performance, especially in more demanding areas of the game, you can follow the instructions from this post on the Lambda1VR subreddit, which involves editing a text file in the xash folder on your Quest.
For any other more advanced tweaks, we would highly recommend checking out this guide on the Lambda1VR subreddit, which goes a bit further than ours does in terms of customization with controls and other options. It also has instructions on how to play the Half-Life expansion, Blue Shift.
This story originally appeared on Uploadvr.com. Copyright 2020
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Half-Life: Alyx is Valve's first flagship VR title, and it's the first new Half-Life game in well over a decade. Valve has, once again, lived up to its pedigree as one of the world's foremost video game developers and created a must-have title. Unfortunately, at this moment, it's only available on a PC running Steam. But Oculus Quest owners can rest assured knowing that they don't need to purchase another VR headset just to play; all you need is a decent gaming PC and an Oculus Quest to get playing!
Second Life Oculus Quest
- For a simple wired experience
- Freely wireless with ALVR
- Get your entire desktop with Virtual Desktop
Products used in this guide
- The easiest way to connect: Oculus Link cable ($80 at Best Buy)
- When a USB-C port isn't available: Modal 10-foot cable ($27 at Best Buy)
- See your computer's desktop through your Quest: Virtual Desktop ($13 at Oculus)
- Unlock your Quest's full potential: SideQuest (Free at SideQuest VR)
How to play Half-Life: Alyx with an Oculus Link© Provided by Windows Central
Wired is the best way to go right now for two main reasons. First, the wired experience is unbelievably easy to set up and, second, you'll be getting the highest quality video and audio quality with a wire. To get started, all you'll need is a USB Type-C cable to plug your Oculus Quest into your computer.
Second Life Oculus Quest Download
The $80 Oculus Link cable will offer the highest quality experience and is officially recommended by Oculus. If your computer doesn't have a USB Type-C port, you can opt for a less expensive $27 Modal 10-foot cable that'll plug into the USB Type-A 3.1 ports on your PC. Once you've got the cable, follow these instructions.
- Make sure Steam, SteamVR, and Half-Life: Alyx are all installed on your computer. You can get Steam here. You don't need to open SteamVR at this time.
- Open up the Oculus software on your PC.
- If you don't already have it, download it here.
- Sign in with your Oculus account.
- Connect one side of the USB cable to the appropriate port on your PC and the other side to your Oculus Quest.
The Oculus app on your computer should recognize the Oculus Quest once it's plugged in. Click Continue on the screen that pops up to enable Oculus Link.© Provided by Windows Central
During the Oculus Link setup, you can test the cable to make sure it's fast enough to be used with Oculus Link by clicking the Test button at the bottom of the screen. If your cable fails the test, you should consider one of the cables we recommended above.© Provided by Windows Central
- Click Continue and put the Oculus Quest on your head.
- You'll be asked to set up the Guardian boundaries for your room.
- On the Oculus Home screen, select Apps on the left-hand side of the screen.
Now start SteamVR.© Provided by Windows Central
If you have not previously set up the room boundaries in SteamVR, you'll need to follow through with the steps on your PC. This will appear automatically on your monitor if it was not previously set up.© Provided by Windows Central
Once SteamVR loads up, press the menu button on the left Oculus Touch controller to pull up the SteamVR dashboard.© Provided by Windows Central
- Launch Half-Life: Alyx and enjoy.
How to play Half-Life: Alyx with Virtual Desktop© Provided by Windows Central
Virtual Desktop is the best wireless experience but it'll cost you extra (if you want to go free, check out ALVR). Make sure to buy the Oculus Quest version, which can be found on the Oculus Store right here (the Steam and Oculus Rift versions won't do the same thing). Once you've got that, put your Oculus Quest on and get Virtual Desktop installed:
- Open your library tab on the Oculus bar at the bottom of your view. It's the square grid of 9 dots.
- If you don't see the bar at the bottom, press the home button on your right controller.
Install Virtual Desktop by clicking the install button on the Virtual Desktop tile.© Provided by Windows Central
- Once it's done installing, take your headset off. Don't launch Virtual Desktop just yet.
Head on over to your gaming PC now.
- Plug your Oculus Quest into your computer with a USB cable. SideQuest should recognize your Oculus Quest if you've gone through our SideQuest setup guide.
- Navigate to the SideQuest app on your Desktop PC.
- Use the search bar on the top right of the SideQuest app to search for Virtual Desktop or just click here.
Select Virtual Desktop.© Provided by Windows Central
Click the Install to Headset button to install the Virtual Desktop patch onto your Oculus Quest.© Provided by Windows Central
Click on the tasks button on the top and ensure the patch was successfully installed.© Provided by Windows Central
- While still on your PC, download the Virtual Desktop streaming app.
Run the application once it's done downloading.© Provided by Windows Central
- Fill in your Oculus username in the box and press Save.
- For the best future experience, make sure Start with Windows and Start minimized in tray are selected.
Time to put the Oculus Quest on your head and game.
- Launch Virtual Desktop from the library tab on the Oculus bar at the bottom.
When Virtual Desktop loads up for the first time, you'll need to select your Desktop PC from the list to connect to it. It's probably the only thing listed.© Provided by Windows Central
- Once connected, press the menu button on the left controller to open the universal Virtual Desktop menu.
Select Games from the list.© Provided by Windows Central
Select Half-Life: Alyx.© Provided by Windows Central
How to play Half-Life: Alyx with ALVR (a free wireless experience)© Provided by Windows Central
ALVR delivers a wireless VR experience without the extra cost. It's come a long way in a very short amount of time and, in most cases, the quality gap between it and Virtual Desktop has quickly shrunk. That's why we love ALVR and can recommend it as a great way to go wireless without spending the extra dough.
For this tutorial, you'll need to use SideQuest to get ALVR installed onto your Oculus Quest. Please follow our SideQuest guide here if you don't have SideQuest installed yet.
- On your desktop computer, navigate to the ALVR Github.
Download ALVR_server_Windows.zip. You can find this under the Assets section of each release in Github.© Provided by Windows Central
Extract ALVR_server_Windows.zip to a permanent location on your computer. Something like My Documents or the Desktop folder is fine.© Provided by Windows Central
- Open up the ALVR folder you just extracted and run ALVR.exe.
Accept any security warnings that appear.© Provided by Windows Central
Follow through the initial setup to make sure your Windows Firewall is configured correctly.© Provided by Windows Central
Now to load ALVR onto your Oculus Quest
- Plug your Oculus Quest into your computer with a USB cable. SideQuest should recognize your Oculus Quest if you've gone through our Sidequest setup guide.
- Open up the SideQuest application on your desktop PC.
Use the search box at the top of the screen to search for ALVR or click here. The full title name you'll see listed in Sidequest is ALVR - Air Light VR.© Provided by Windows Central
On the store page within Sidequest, click the Install to Headset button to download and install ALVR onto your Oculus Quest.© Provided by Windows Central
- Once the installation is complete, unplug the Oculus Quest and fit it to your face as you normally would when playing.
- Open your library tab on the Oculus bar at the bottom of your view. It's the square grid of 9 dots. If you don't see the bar at the bottom, press the home button on your right controller.
- Select Unknown Sources from the rightmost dropdown list.
Scroll down and select ALVR from the main pane.© Provided by Windows Central
- ALVR will launch into a white screen.
- Pull your visor up but leave the Oculus Quest on your head to keep it from falling asleep.
On your computer, click the Trust button within the ALVR app next to the Oculus Quest listing.© Provided by Windows Central
- Once it's connected, you'll see your headset's statistics and information displayed in the ALVR app on your desktop.
- SteamVR will automatically launch and you'll be greeted with SteamVR home from within the Oculus Quest.
Once SteamVR loads up, press the menu button on the left Oculus Touch controller to pull up the SteamVR dashboard.© Provided by Windows Central
- Launch Half-Life: Alyx and enjoy.
And there you have it, all the options you could want for playing Half-Life: Alyx on your Oculus Quest. Keep in mind that you'll experience the highest quality visual and audio fidelity when using the wired Oculus Link experience. The wireless experiences outlined here will be slightly lower quality but will depend entirely on how fast your home's network is. A faster home network will guarantee a higher quality wireless experience. Either way, you'll be experiencing the best VR has to offer with Half-Life: Alyx.
Half-Life is back!
Half-Life: Alyx© Provided by Windows Central
The story we never knew
Half-Life: Alyx is a bold comeback for Valve's previously-stagnant AAA franchise, described by Valve itself as its 'flagship VR game.'
The fastest way to get connected
Oculus Link Cable© Provided by Windows Central
Simplicity in design
When you are ready to turn your Oculus Quest into an Oculus Rift, the Oculus Link cable is all you need. Just plug it in and you'll be playing high-end PC VR games without any annoying configuration or additional steps.
The less expensive path
Modal 10' USB cable
Oculus Quest For Second Life© Provided by Windows Central
Less money, more compatibility
Modal's 10-foot USB-A to USB-C cable works perfectly for the Oculus Quest when your computer doesn't have a USB Type-C port to plug into. It's also less expensive than the official cable and features a durable braided protective cover.